Performance reviews and employee satisfaction surveys aren't always the best way to get honest feedback from employees. And as a result, more companies are moving to establish a feedback culture, which relies on fostering an open culture through communication and frequent check-ins with employees.
Ty Tucker, CEO of REV, a performance management platform vendor, emphasizes the importance of encouraging trust and patience when building a feedback culture.
"In the end, it doesn't matter if you have the best perks -- like a fancy cafeteria that offers free lunch or a gym in the office -- without trust, none of this matters. Although this business philosophy can take a lot longer to gain traction than simply sending out a survey, you will likely receive more honest opinions and genuine feedback if your employees trust you -- and vice versa," he says.
Creating a feedback culture can establish better connections between employees and management and help both sides deliver more consistent, honest feedback. In addition, according to Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of HighGround, a company that offers employee engagement software, there are three questions you should be asking your employees to determine satisfaction levels.
Do you feel aligned with your goals?
The best way to engage your workers is by helping them find meaning in what they do. Without a sense of purpose at work, employees might feel less loyalty or connection to the company.
"When employees don't see the point in the work they do for 40 plus hours every week, this sentiment will eventually shine through in their job satisfaction and performance. Employees who don't find significance in their work will likely leave for other opportunities," says Sandhir.
Therefore, he says, the most important question you should ask employees is, "do you understand how your personal career goals align with our company's goals and purpose? And do you find meaning in your work?"
If managers can better understand their employee's goals, they can help them connect those expectations to the overall goals of the company. By maintaining transparency with leadership, employees will know exactly how their personal goals fit into the corporate strategy.
"This helps employees know where the company is going, envision how it's going to get there, and understand how its values tie into each decision. When everyone is working together toward a shared goal, it will lead to increased trust among employees who support and root for one another," says Tucker.
Do you have support?
Your overworked and overwhelmed employees aren't going to feel satisfied at work on a daily basis. That's why Sandhir says you should always ask your workers, "do you have the support from your team and resources to do good work?"
It's an important question to not only ensure your teams are properly staffed and that they have the right resources, but it can also give more insight into team relationships. Even a fully staffed and well-budgeted department can suffer from internal office politics, which might affect satisfaction levels.
"Team-oriented organizations should establish common values among employees to create a supportive environment. This way, employees can learn from each other and give one another useful feedback -- both positive and constructive," says Sandhir.
Tucker says that management needs to lead these types of conversations so that employees feel they can always ask for help when they need it. "Oftentimes, employees will sit back and let things happen because they don't feel as though they have the support system to help them get out of a rut," he says.
If managers and other business leaders start the conversation, it can also help make workers feel more comfortable with being honest. And, as Tucker points out, it can boost engagement and motivation when employees see that "leaders take the time to ask how they are feeling."
Are you feeling acknowledged?
Sandhir points to research published in Harvard Business Review that suggests recognized employees are happier employees. To make sure your employees feel recognized at work, he says you can simply ask, "Are you acknowledged for your good work?"
"Asking this question allows organizational leadership to determine if their employees are getting enough acknowledgment -- which should go beyond praise in six-month reviews, annual service awards or traditional employee of the month certificates," he says.
Simply acknowledging and appreciating workers can go a long way and it doesn't require anything extravagant. There are simple ways to make employees feel recognized at work. Harvard Business Review encourages corporate transparency, public acknowledgment of accomplishments or even hand-written thank-you notes.
Of course, these questions are just a guideline for gauging employee satisfaction -- there are plenty of tools that can help you gather employee engagement data, but it can be as simple as increasing face time between managers and employees.
"Simply increasing face time between managers and employees can strengthen the relationship, which ultimately fosters genuine trust and feedback. Employers should also equip employees with the time and tools to have continuous coaching conversations with their managers," says Sandhir.
This article was written by By Sarah K. White from CIO.